Visual artist Rhonda Dee is about to begin her residency at the Main Street Studios. We caught up with Rhonda to talk about the major themes of her practice, and the project she’ll be undertaking during her time in Blacktown.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in the geo-political borderlands of Texas and Mexico. I grew up in a fusion of Latino, Native-American and Anglo which had the effect of heightening my awareness of border politics, migration and cross-cultural identities. Making art has been my way of understanding the world, a way of surviving, and a way to pursue my insatiable curiosity.
Migration is a major theme in your work. Why is it significant for you?
We are all migrants at some stage, continually traversing not only the spatial boundaries of continents, culture, and new technologies, but also travelling the hidden, internal geographies of our individual bodies, emotions and psyche.
Migrants powerfully and continually transform culture. Many have been acted upon by the world in extreme ways. They carry knowledge, fragments, memories and dreams of the future which pass through bodies, histories and across time.
What will you be working on during your residency?
My residency will be used in 2 ways. One way is to interface and record stories, memories and desires that are particular to the Sudanese community. The second aspect will be to transform fragmented tales into a series of maps, sculptures, photographs and drawings that embrace the idea of the fragment as a living talisman of human feeling and evolution.
Why is it important for you to pursue this project in Blacktown?
It is important for me to work with ideas that feel right even before I can articulate why that is. Blacktown is a fertile multicultural space to co-imagine and develop deeper conversations and intersections with the community. My approach to this residency is open-ended; I am allowing community interaction to inform the work.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
If my life as an artist has taught me anything, it is to integrate mistakes, trust pain as an indicator, and to regularly contemplate uncertain directions and still follow them!